Supreme Court: After it was brought to the Court’s notice that several fake claim petitions were being filed for getting compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act as well as under the Workmen Compensation Act, the bench of MR Shah and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has issues notice to the Ministry of Transport, Government of India seeking its response and suggestions on how to curb the menace of filing false/fake claim petitions.
The Special Investigating Team (SIT) has filed a Status Report with respect to complaints filed/enquiry completed, the names of the accused, where the criminal complaints are filed and in which criminal cases the charge sheets have been filed. The Status Report shows that total 1376 cases of suspicious claims from various Districts in the State of U.P. have been received so far by the SIT.
Some of the issues Highlighted in the Status report
- Out of total 1376 cases of suspicious claims received by the SIT since 2015, after completing enquiry of 247 cases of suspicious claims till date, total 198 accused persons have been prima facie found guilty of cognizable offence and accordingly total 92 criminal cases have been registered in various districts. Further, against some of the accused persons, more than criminal cases have been registered. Enquiry of remaining cases of suspicious claims is underway.
- Out of total criminal cases registered so far, investigation of 36 criminal cases have been completed and charge sheets against accused persons have been filed in 32 criminal cases 2 and final reports in 4 criminal cases have been forwarded to the concerned Criminal Court.
- total 92 criminal cases in various Districts have been registered till date, of which, 28 advocates have been named as accused persons in 55 cases. Charge sheets against 11 advocates in 25 cases have been forwarded to the concerned trial Court till date.
- Headquarter of the SIT is situated in Lucknow. Officers/employees have to go in the districts of the entire State and sometimes have to go in other States outside the State of Uttar Pradesh for conducting enquiry/investigation proceedings as and when so warranted.
- Due to the outbreak of Covid-19, there was a lockdown and termination of transportation services in the State and even some of the officers/employees have been got infected, enquiry/investigation process was adversely affected. It is stated that on getting the situation normal after completion of lockdown of Corona period, full attempts are being made to start this enquiry/investigation process speedily.
- As the respective insurance companies are not ready to being complainants in the FIR, the investigating officer of the SIT has to become the complainant and therefore also it takes some time. Investigating officer is also present in the Court.
Modus operandi in instituting the fake compensation petitions
- Non-road accident injury-death converted into road accident claims;
- fraudulent implantation of vehicle;
- false implantation of driver;
- claimant implantation;
- multiple claims at various for a at different territorial locations for compensation out of injury/death caused arising out of the same accident. Often the claim applications are filed both before various MACT Tribunals as well as the authorities under the Employees Compensation Act, 1923;
- fake/fabricated insurance policies; and
- fake/fabricated income documents/medical documents for exaggerated compensation
The Court was hence of the opinion that before any further directions are issued, it was necessary to seek the response from the Ministry of Transport, Government of India to have their suggestions for remedial and preventive measures for curbing the menace of filing of false/fraud claim petitions.
The Court, hence, directed the Registry to implead the Ministry of Transport, Government of India as a party-respondent and issue notice. K.M. Nataraj, Additional Solicitor General of India has been requested to appear on behalf of the Ministry of Transport, Government of India and to assist the Court and to come out with suggestions how to curb the menace of filing false/fake claim petitions, after which the Court will issue directions to be applied pan India.
[Safiq Ahmed v. ICICI Lombard General Insurance Co. Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1259, order dated 16.12.2021]
For Insurance Companies: Senior Advocate Atul Nanda and Advocate Vishnu Mehra